Monday, September 25, 2017

Alcratraz Swim #4 - done!

We swam Alcatraz...I did it in a bikini and it was FUN! Although I didn't race like normal, I had a fine time at 43 minutes across and kind of wonder what my time had been if I went full throttle! Next year provides that opportunity, I suppose!
Thank you for our kits and sponsorship, New Wave Swim Buoy!

Feeling strong and grateful for health and fitness in our late 40s!
(The guy could be our son!)

Diana, Rose, me and Kate

Kate, Diana and Rose are all amazing, strong women and we have a blast swimming together. This trip was extra special because I was able to share the weekend with my mom, son Alex, and my "auntie" Dorothy! We'll be back!

I've committed to Kate to join her on her English Channel 2018 relay, so the training continues!

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Alcatraz weekend approaches!

Tomorrow I get on a plane and, once landed, all my worlds collide: me as daughter, mom, friend and swimmer roll into one fabulous, fun-packed weekend with the people and activities I love in San Francisco.

The South End Rowing Club's Alcatraz Swim will be interesting for me. It's my fourth time doing an Alacatraz swim but my very first time doing so with NO WETSUIT...and technically my fourth race this season swimming with a deep core injury (docs are calling this a case of iliopsoas strain) that has been giving me fitful sleep since June 30 and limiting my ability to walk--or even turn in bed, get out of bed, raise my right leg, etc. PT has not helped--maybe I started too soon or I just need to be patient. I tapered my swimming workouts down a lot this month to help heal up.

Fortunately, swimming only hurts when I really get going and then it stabs under my diaphragm when I grab a breath--that's typically on mile two of my swim workouts. My goal in this, like Waikiki, is to just finish. My past two Alcatraz times have been 45 and 43 minutes, wearing a wetsuit, so if I can do this swim in 50 minutes "in skin" I'll be pretty happy. We shall see! After the shock of cold shakes off I plan to tune out, dig deep and get this done. I visualize completion and celebration.
This is what it looks like from the boat. Notice all the wetsuits!
When we get out of the water is when the real fun begins. My mom and son Alex are both in town for the weekend, and we'll all head to the Arlequin Cafe, pop bubbles and eat like fiends with swimmy pals (to get back those expended calories and rehash our high and low points of the race). Another pal Llorie, I've only seen in 2005 on a work trip, and before that when I was pregnant in Hawaii with Alex, is going to see him for the very first time as a 21-year-old!

Then we sigh, relax, and visit more Sunday. Really looking forward to a fun weekend!

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Thursday, September 07, 2017

From Vashon Island to Oahu

This past weekend my husband David and I took a short trip to Waikiki. The timing was right: he had the week off work, we had a companion fare deal on AK Airlines and there was the famous Waikiki Roughwater Swim on Labor Day this year!

The humidity hangs thick like a velvet curtain when you first land on Oahu. It's easy to forget about, being so far from it. We took a (total ripoff) taxi ride into Waikiki and decided to Uber the rest of the trip. Good decision. We stayed at Hyatt Centric Waikiki, which is a fun boutique hotel in the middle of everything. David remarked that Waikiki reminded him of Vegas, in its built out, luxury retail, commodified way. After living on quiet Vashon for so long, I'm incredibly sensitive to sound at night. The untz-untz of a nearby nightclub and street noise awakened me a lot (even being 12 stories up). David never heard a thing.


This man is an awesome athlete.

David, Brion, me


This is Becky. Met her at the start.
We finished a minute apart.


My brother Brion lives there and has since 1994. He works in construction living a simple life he loves. Same apartment for two decades. Steady as it gets. We had nice visits with him and David surfed Diamond Head with him one day while I chilled out in the sun. The surf was UP on the south shore, which doesn't bode well for the swim. That means the little keyhole channels between the deep water and the shore where you're swimming into are sucking out....which means you are fighting like hell to get back in. Great for getting into the deep, bad getting back. To my delight, David decided to enter the swim as well. One of our Notorious Alki Swimmer friends Randy was in town too, signed up and ready to go! We all met up with the Waikiki Swim Club on a channel practice swim the day before the race (nice people). I pointed out to David the apartment I once lived in (1992-3) at the Hilton long before they became timeshares. So trippy seeing it again. I never took living there for granted, and always hit the beach, and its little gym and pool! On this day, on that beach, strong whitewash took my goggles and cap off a few times. Big surf!

We saw Moina, a resident swim friend, and enjoyed a quick chat riding across town with her to get our race packets squared away. Traffic has really gotten worse in town. Town is also so built out along Ala Moana. Nuts. We had an AMAZING dinner in Kaimuki at 12th Ave. Grill. The food is modern American with some island fare thrown in, and lots of local produce and meats. Service was top notch, too. We could have come back again and again. Carbed up, we got to bed early.

Race day was partly cloudy and the surf died down a little. About 700 swimmers from all over the world gathered to race. About half were not from the islands. There were lots of D1 collegiates and world class athletes in the mix. I signed on to the D group, to avoid being trampled, and hopefully to stick with David. That lasted about 300 yards. With feet and arms all in your face in a mass wave of 150+ others, all you see are bubbles and the toes in front of you. Later I swam alongside someone I thought was David, only to realize it was someone else. I noticed a lot of tidal resistance after the first turn buoy, but the very hardest part was the final leg back into the channel. In between that 1.5 mile stretch of ocean, you really do spread out and it gets damn lonely. I followed the buoys in a line on the sea shelf, although a lot of swimmers stayed 100-200 yards parallel, inside towards shore. I joked with some of the volunteers in the deep, asking for my Pina Colada, before putting my head back down.


Whoops, my Garmin was off until I flipped it on at the first turn buoy.
Started from shore at Kaimana Beach.
I can't make a muscle. 

The very last leg was an all-out swim to inch forward (and right) against the current. It was also tugging left, which unchecked, would drag you right over coral shelves. It was then the swimmers began to converge again in pursuit of the keyhole channel to finish (safely). Once out (2 hrs, 5 minutes..not breaking any records on that swim people. HA!), I was overjoyed and overheated, hyperventilating! Straight to the medic tent, got my breath back, and David finished just minutes behind me. Seattle folks did great. There were many more from Puget Sound in that race. About 620 finished the race. I'd do it again.

Because of being centered in Waikiki and car-less this time, we didn't get too social. There are several friends we'll go back and see with a car next time, and there will definitely be a next time!

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